Feb. 4th, 2011 06:17 pm
Various things:

1. I saw The King's Speech yesterday afternoon, and it was truly beautiful. Colin Firth deserves an Oscar for his performance as King George VI, and the film contains what has to be the single best use of Mozart's Seventh Symphony ever in its climax - melancholy and defiant at once in music, plot, and images. The film is about a personal struggle and triumph, but it takes place against the backdrop of the darkest period in our recent history - not exactly the most upbeat of films, all told (hooray, he's overcome his stammer and made a rousing speech...crap, that speech is the first of all the ones he'll make throughout WWII), but you come away from it with at least a bit of hope. It's a movie about the end of an era, but it doesn't leave you feeling bereft.

2. I've made a post on [livejournal.com profile] asex_adjusted about sex positivity, asexuality, and gender identification. It's far too long and probably incoherent.

3. IT SNOWED LAST NIGHT. The ice was covered with a thin layer of actual snow when I got up this morning, though it had all melted completely away wherever there was sunlight. My door is permanently in shadow, though, so there's snow on the walkway in front of my apartment. I took pictures.
For those who don't know, the National Film Registry here in the USA is a list of films selected for preservation in the Library of Congress. Each year, twenty-five films are chosen and given priority, with the current total at five hundred and fifty. An effort is made to select films from a variety of eras and genres, with selections made based on the cultural or artistic relevance of the films rather than the personal taste of those involved in choosing them. Just about any film can be selected--I know of at least two home movies listed in the registry (Disneyland Dream and the film of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapse), and I'm always surprised (almost always pleasantly) by the year's selections. This year's twenty-five films, arranged in alphabetical order:

1. Airplane (1980)
2. All the President’s Men (1976)
3. The Bargain (1914)
4. Cry of Jazz (1959)
5. Electronic Labyrinth: THX 1138 4EB (1967)
6. The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
7. The Exorcist (1973)
8. The Front Page (1931)
9. Grey Gardens (1976)
10. I Am Joaquin (1969)
11. It’s a Gift (1934)
12. Let There Be Light (1946)
13. Lonesome (1928)
14. Make Way For Tomorrow (1937)
15. Malcolm X (1992)
16. McCabe and Mrs. Miller (1971)
17. Newark Athlete (1891)
18. Our Lady of the Sphere (1969)
19. The Pink Panther (1964)
20. Preservation of the Sign Language (1913)
21. Saturday Night Fever (1977)
22. Study of a River (1996)
23. Tarantella (1940)
24. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945)
25. A Trip Down Market Street (1906)

Am still cracking up about Airplane! being included--I had to double check to make sure that there wasn't a second film with that title. It makes sense, though--the disaster film was a big trademark of the 1970s, and the disaster film parodies that followed it deserve to be remembered as well.


Dec. 7th, 2010 12:58 am
I went and saw Tangled tonight to celebrate finally being (mostly) done with classes. I don't think I'll be doing any more late night movies on my own, though. Didn't run into anyone or anything threatening, but it just didn't feel good to be walking out to my car alone in the middle of the night, especially when I really don't know what the area around that mall is like.

Anyway, the movie:

I predicted when I saw the trailers for this movie that I would be drawn to see it, that I would enjoy it, but that it wouldn't blow my mind. I'm undecided how much of my feelings are me genuinely reacting to the movie and how much of my urge to dismiss this movie is just me holding onto the expectations I built up months ago. Because yeah--while I did enjoy it (quite a lot), it didn't blow my mind. I kept counting tropes in my head--cute animal friend, all animals are dogs (though at least Max the horse wasn't actually any good at tracking people down by scent), et cetera. It did help that while the movie was unapologetically a fairy tale, it was also unapologetically silly--the "I've Got a Dream" song was nothing but crack, and Flynn's partners in crime were a pair of identical twin thugs called--I kid you not--the "Stabbington Brothers." There were moments where it felt like this was Disney's attempt to capture the tone and style of the Shrek movies, but I felt that Tangled had a lot more heart to it than that series. It was a lot lighter on the pop culture, too; the closest thing I can remember to a pop culture reference in the film was someone mentioning Mozart. Nothing against Shrek and its pop culture saturation, but I'm at a point where I find it refreshing when a lighthearted film doesn't rely on that.

So I dunno. Paint by numbers? Maybe a little bit. There were a few moments, particularly toward the beginning, when I felt like we were ticking boxes that just had to be ticked in order for it to be an animated fairy tale movie by Disney, and of course it was pretty obvious from the beginning how it was going to end. If you've seen the trailer, I'm sure you've already guessed at least half the ending, and by the time you're ten minutes in you'll have guessed the rest.

Just as in the case of Megamind, however, I have to say that a movie doesn't really need to surprise you at every single turn and have its ending come out of nowhere in order for it to be a good night out. Or in, as the case may be. I found myself a lot more interested in all of the characters than I'd expected to be--even if the overall movie felt a little cookie cutter, the characters really didn't. Rapunzel is pretty much the most adorable thing ever to live, the witch is darkly fascinating, Flynn is hilarious, and all of them have really amazing hair. Seriously, I kept getting distracted by all the gorgeous CG hair in this movie, and I don't mean just Rapunzel's (though hers was awesome, of course).

Like I said, I'm on the fence. Once more, for all its predictability, I did have a good time watching it. The songs were good, the characters were engaging and fun, and it's pretty much what Disney set out to make: a fairy tale movie like they used to produce.

As for the previews: Yogi Bear looks more insipid every time I have the misfortune to watch the preview. I can't wait for that to come out just so I can stop having the trailers inflicted on me at the cinema. Saw the preview for the Justin Bieber thing again, and couldn't help but laugh and groan at lines like "He's living this incredible life, but he's just like you and me!" Good grief, what is the fascination with singers' personal lives, anyway? Of course they're just like you and me; they're human, aren't they? Yeah, of course money and fame can change how they act, but that doesn't mean they're from another planet or something.

Of course, just as we're about to finally be rid of Yogi Bear, I find out that there's a live action/CG Smurfs movie in the works that will apparently take place in New York. I just...don't even want to go there. I don't really have anything for or against the Smurfs in general, but seeing a bunch of little blue CG men with big, wet eyes climbing around on taxis just gave me the heebie jeebies. This trend of taking old cartoons that were defined stylistically by their two-dimensionality and turning them into semi-photorealistic CG really has to stop. Regardless of how I feel about the cartoons themselves, and regardless of the story of the film, it's just not right.

Another thing that's just not right: Mars Needs Moms. This film is apparently from the same producer as The Polar Express, which might explain why it looks to be another extended tour of the uncanny valley. I thought they got the picture when so many people were creeped out by zombie!Tom Hanks--guess I was wrong. While I made it through The Polar Express okay by concentrating on the characters who were at least not completely horrifying, even the protagonist of Mars Needs Moms looks like a male version of the SimPal Cindy doll from The Sixth Day (if you don't remember that thing, google it--I dare you). I think there was something in there about Martians abducting human mothers because they were inept at raising their own children, and some sort of Great Mom Escape plot, but I was too busy dealing with the problem of my skin crawling every time I saw one of the characters to really follow whatever flimsy justification they cobbled together for this undead romp across the red planet. I try not to automatically pan animated movies for stylistic choices (Rango, for instance, has a style not immediately to my taste but that I'm willing to let grow on me because the film looks interesting), but this is just unforgivably ugly. Why even bother animating it if all the human characters are just going to be made to look as human as possible and animated via motion capture? They just look like floaty zombies wading through sludgy air. Ew.


Nov. 18th, 2010 08:02 pm
So after deciding today that I needed to go see more movies, I up and went to the mall late this afternoon to see Megamind, it being the only movie that both sounded interesting and didn't have completely atrocious reviews. It reminded me a bit of Planet 51--irreverent, not always quite as clever as it thought it was, a bit predictable, but overall enjoyable. It's a bit late to be putting out a revisionist superhero movie now, though, and I think the backlash against this film (and my initial reluctance to see it) came from that as much as anything. There's also Despicable Me out this very same year with another super villain as its lead, which certainly doesn't help the case. I haven't seen Despicable Me myself, but my brother tells me it was a disappointment, which we both called the moment the expanded trailers came out and revealed that the movie had a Mr. Mom subplot (or just plain plot?) going on. Talk about predictable! All I can really say, though, is that Ben felt there were large, incomplete, and incompatible chunks of two or three movies there that had been mashed together, and I don't feel particularly inclined to rush out and get the DVD to double check that.

So at least Megamind has going for it that it's relatively coherent. I felt engaged with it from start to finish, the animation was really nice (though there were one or two character designs I didn't particularly care for), and it was funny. Familiar and predictable is not always bad. There's a reason tropes become tropes: they work. I wanted a movie to have a little fun with, and it delivered. Not one for the ages, but definitely one for the matinee.

Previews are looking...well, some of them are looking good. I had to cringe my way through the Yogi Bear one for the second time (I watched it online out of morbid curiosity a few weeks ago), but Tangled is looking fun (if a bit generic in animation--please, Disney, do not copy Dreamworks's style!), and I'm sort of on the fence about Gulliver's Travels. It's looking like they abridged it to just the part about his adventures in Lilliput, but that might not be a deal breaker.

Looks like Harry Potter's out tomorrow, but I really didn't feel like hanging around for a midnight showing all by myself (plus it's totally showing at the IMAX theater closer to my apartment). I'll have to try to figure out when I can go when I'm not too likely to run into a bunch of little kids whose parents didn't catch on that Harry Potter gets darker as it goes.

127 Hours

Nov. 3rd, 2010 12:05 am
I keep forgetting to write up my thoughts about this, but I'd like to say a little something about what I saw at the Austin Film Festival last week and the week before. I bought a basic pass for $42, and feel very much that I got my money's worth after the seven or eight programs I attended. I saw two very lovely documentaries (Make Believe and Waste Land), a mediocre Irish comedy (Zonad), more short films than you can shake a stick at (some good, some bad, some animated, some live action), and one movie already slated for wide release (127 Hours, based on the real life story of Aron Ralston). This week, in fact; it opens on Friday here in America.

Surprisingly, it's the last film that has stuck in my mind the most. I try to be a cynic about "based on a true story" movies since you have to take it all with a grain of salt and as soon as you spot the differences between the film and the real story it quickly starts seeming cheap (Newsies is adorable, but was there any actual reason for Kid Blink being turned into a secondary character?), and I try to be a cynic about movies that make me cry, precisely because I recognize that I cry at movies very, very easily, but I have to say that 127 Hours is truly excellent. It turns out James Franco is very much capable of carrying a movie that consists mostly of him standing in a dark hole and talking to himself, and that Danny Boyle is very much capable of turning "man falls down a hole, gets his hand trapped under a rock for five days" into something in which it is very easy to get (and remain!) emotionally invested.

I don't think discussion of the ending really counts as a spoiler since it was in the news seven years ago, but here's a courtesy cut anyway )

I don't want to give the impression that this one sequence dominates the whole movie. It's a very introspective film, peppered with flashbacks and hallucination/dream sequences in between Aron's internal and external monologues (he has a camcorder, which he uses to record final messages to his family). It's also, as I mentioned above, surprisingly funny--Aron is a very charismatic, playful character, and at points he uses humor to keep himself alive and fighting.

Just...here. Watch the trailer. It's making me want to go see it again, regardless of what an intense, exhausting experience it was the first time.

I was also going to rant about the movie rating system, but I got all distracted and wound up by this trailer, and I need to try to get back to my homework. Another time, maybe.

ETA: Found this, and it sounds like the real Aron Ralston is quite happy with the movie, and that Boyle's intentions in doing things the way he did in the film were a.) true to Ralston's book about it and b.) exactly what I thought they were. Those last attempts at cynicism on my part are just melting away.
Warning: contains spoilers for both the movie and the TV show

Went and saw The Last Airbender with Ben tonight.

It is the most amazingly bad film I have seen in a long, long time. I say that as an avid fan of the television series, which actually dealt pretty maturely with its themes of war and loss and heroism and all that jazz while still delivering a show that was fairly lighthearted and highly enjoyable. It had well-fleshed-out characters, a world built out of amalgams of things from our world (like the animals, which were mostly things like platypus bears and turtle ducks, and like the characters themselves--the Water Tribe, for instance, consists of black people with blue eyes who live more or less like Inuits), and more cool uses of elemental "bending" than you can shake a stick at. Fire benders? Let's kick it up another notch and have some lightning up in here. Water benders? Okay, let's take that a step further and have them learn blood bending and deal with the moral ramifications of that. It was a really cool show.

The movie on the other hand, is about as bland as bland can be. All the main characters are white except for Zuko, who, like the rest of the Fire Nation, is randomly Indian now. Oh, but everyone in the Water Tribe other than Katara and Sokka are Inuits. They're just the two random white offspring of a whole tribe of Native Americans. Oh, and Zuko's massive facial scar? He's got a couple little scratches now. Can't mar the pretty, after all. Don't forget, either, that the Fire Nation is suddenly a desert when it was actually a rather nice, vaguely Japanese place in the cartoon.

But that's just the look of the thing, you say. What about the characters? What about the plot?

What characters? What plot? Iroh's now a generically wise old martial arts master, Zuko's a whiny little bitch...okay, so first season Zuko was like that, but that's no excuse for making him so damned boring. Katara and Sokka have been drained of all life, Aang sort of halfheartedly goes through the motions of being in mourning for his entire race, Ozai is just some guy who shows no sign whatsoever of being impressive or intimidating, and Zhao wanders around telling everyone about how he's found some scrolls in the library that reveal the secret location of the ocean and moon spirits. Seriously, he's constantly saying that. He seems to feel that every single person he encounters goddamn needs to know that he found some scrolls in the library that reveal the secret location of the ocean and moon spirits. And yeah, he dun found those spirits in the show, but in the show I didn't end up laughing my ass off when he finally went ahead and shanked the moon spirit. It was a sad moment. Now it's just some guy blathering on about scrolls from the library and stabbing a fish in a sack.

Also, the line "Zhao has no sacredness" will never ever not be funny to me. CLEARLY HE DOES NOT. THANK YOU FOR THE CLARIFICATION THAR.

Or "We need to prove to them that we believe in our beliefs as much as they believe in their beliefs." Whaat. Yue, you are on crack.

Speaking of Yue, we only know that Sokka's supposed to be in love with her because Katara tells us so in a voiceover. Yup. Look, M. Night Shyamamamalan, I know you're crunched for time, but one stilted onscreen conversation about how her hair turned white as a baby and how Sokka hates sand--wait, that's Star Wars does not a compelling romance make. Oh, and Sokka's other love interest is not included in the film at all. The Kyoshi Warriors apparently don't exist in this version, so no Suki for Sokka. Tho thad.

Okay, I'll lay off...after I complain about one last thing. Why, oh why would you ever do something so stupid as to take a well-known show and, in the process of adapting it for the big screen, go ahead and change the pronunciation of half the characters' names? Did Shymamalamb never even watch an episode of the show? That would certainly explain a few other things.
So I just watched Sita Sings the Blues for my animation class--it was made using roughly the same software that's available to us at the university (she used Flash, but we're using ToonBoom), so our instructor wanted us to see what can be done with consumer-grade equipment. It's very impressive in that regard, and it's an awesome movie to boot. It's free to download in its entirety if you visit the filmmaker's website, so check it out.

And I'm really thinking I'm going to have to pony up and buy the software we're using in class (i.e. ToonBoom Studio and After Effects) so I can keep working on the computer after I graduate. I think I've said it before, but homemade animation is really the kind of filmmaking I'm most interested in pursuing--you can do anything you want, and you can do it at your own desk.

But for now, I need to get up and get moving so I can get to campus in time to reserve lab time before going to see Spartacus. So that's me stuck on campus for ages tonight with that three-hour screening and then trying to at least start the project I have for animation. Or I might be naughty and just not start the project before class tomorrow like we're supposed to. I do at least know what I'm doing and have the materials I'll need. That might be preferable, since tonight I really have to come home and get something typed up to talk to my thesis advisor about tomorrow afternoon.
I went home for the weekend for a belated Christmas with my immediate family as well as my aunt and (much) younger cousin. We did the whole thing with a vegetable tray and the spicy shrimp and all, and ended up watching the copy I got of WALL-E in order to keep our cousin entertained. The whole family ended up watching, even Dad, who never likes sitting through movies without having two or three to switch between, because WALL-E is just that good. I planned to come back to my apartment on Sunday, but it's now Monday afternoon and I just got in, so there you go. That's mostly because I ended up spending Saturday night at my brother's apartment, where it was cold and the bed was uncomfortable and *insert more complaining.* We played some games, though, including one of the Nancy Drew PC games I got last summer (turns out that even with an emulator they don't run for crap on my Mac, so I'll have to play them at his apartment). We also went and saw Avatar, which he wasn't into and about which I was ambivalent.

On the one hand, yes it is completely gorgeous, even close to visually perfect. And yes, the action sequences were a lot of fun. And yes, I felt that the story flowed smoothly, though there was a point at around the two hour mark when I began thinking that we'd been watching it for an awfully long time. I didn't have a problem with the blue kitty people's FireWire connection to nature like I thought I would (I mean come on, they plug themselves into animals--literally plug themselves into animals wtf how does that benefit the animals no ecosystem would ever be like that raaar), because it became clear pretty early on to me that this was not at all an exercise in building a realistic world; but rather a way of making a fairly simple morality play (very) interesting visually.

But that's part of my problem with the film, in the end--the symbolism gets taken so far and built up so much that whatever message the film has ceases to be applicable to the real world. Oprah said (yeah yeah, Mom watches it and I happened to be in the room, okay?) that it was about how we're all connected to nature--but it's not. The humans in the world aren't connected at all to anything. Only the blue kitty people get that privilege, and in their case it is absolutely literal. So what, then, the message is don't be human? That doesn't work for me. And of course my other problem with it is that the morality of the story is far, far too simple and black and white. Industrialists and military types bad, blue, tree-hugging natives good. Never mind that the Na'vi are racist to the point where they won't even converse with a human unless that human is speaking through an avatar body that looks like a nice, familiar blue kitty--nope, they're the good guys, and there's absolutely nothing about them that should be taken negatively. And, of course, there wasn't much effort made to steer clear of certain tired action cliches, and there was more than one plot hole to niggle at me (like how did Trudy not get jailed for dereliction of duty, thereby preventing her from aiding the heroes later on?). In the end...yeah, I think the writing was pretty lazy.

I hope I'm not giving the impression that I hated the film, because I really didn't. I might even see about going again while it's still in theaters, since I'm pretty sure my TV won't do it justice when it comes out on DVD. I just wish that it had been a more complicated movie, especially when it was so long--they had three hours of movie to play around with, and still didn't manage to flesh out the so-called villains even to the point where they consistently behaved in a realistic fashion, much less to show their point of view or where this conflict was really coming from beyond providing us with a caricature of extreme capitalism. I've seen the issues surrounding the meeting of two alien species and the subsequent attempt to 'Westernize' (or Terranize?) the other race handled more intelligently in a series of parodies starring teddy bear people. Seriously, James Cameron--if you really do make that sequel, you'd better step up your game story-wise.
I was going to wait to see The Princess and the Frog until it had been out for a while and I could use one of my vouchers to get in for $6 instead of $8, but I gave in last night and went to Downtown Disney after work. I realized while on the guest bus that I could have just gotten on the CP bus like usual and gotten off at Pop Century to get the next bus from there (no direct service between the parks and DD), but I had a brain fart, so I didn't and I got there juuust in time to run in and grab a seat in time for the previews (that new Jackie Chan movie--and I'm sorry to say this, I do love Jackie Chan--looks completely and irredeemably awful; however, I'm actually starting to look forward to Toy Story 3). Today I was thinking about going to see Fantastic Mr. Fox, but I have a lot of work to do around the apartment, and it'd be kind of nice to just chill out today anyway. Maybe on Wednesday? I dunno. Sometime soon, anyway.

I was prepared not to like the movie, though I'd been getting more enthusiastic about it as time went on, but I really enjoyed it. It was funny, it was touching, and man, it was really, really pretty. And the music! The only song I didn't particularly like was the modern-style Oscar-bait they had over the credits--it was alright, but I would have rather had some more jazz. Ben has said that he will not go to a Disney princess movie by himself (oh the tribulations of being a manly man), but if it's still playing when I get back in January, he'll go to it with me. I'm already planning to see it again sometime before then, though I'm going to try to hold off for two weeks so I can use those aforementioned vouchers.

I definitely feel that this is a case of the classic fairytale sort of attitude being updated. I don't want to spoil it for you, but when I say that I don't mean because it's irreverent or even because it's been relocated to New Orleans in the roaring twenties. I mean it because Tiana doesn't sit around singing about how someday her prince will come; she goes out there and she works to make her dream (not actually a heterosexual coupling, though the movie does subscribe to the old Disney idea that heterosexual coupling solves all of life's problems) come true.

movie meme!

May. 1st, 2009 12:20 am
Dug out ye olde movie quote meme again. Let's get this one circulating around the flists one more time.

Come on, it's been more than a year...that's long enough, isn't it?

1. Pick 15 of your favourite movies.
2. Go to IMDb and find a quote from each movie.
3. Post them for everyone to guess.
4. Strike it out when someone guesses correctly, and put who guessed it and the movie.
5. NO GOOGLING/using IMDb search functions!

quotes under the cut. warning: some bad words included NOW WITH HINTS )

I'll give everyone a day or two to guess before I start adding hints.
So [livejournal.com profile] agenttrojie started an "I Love the Whole World" rewriting craze on [livejournal.com profile] metaquotes, and I decided to get in on it with a version for film students - or at least critical studies students.

Inspirational posts are here and here.

I love photography
I love the zoetrope
I love the Latham loop
And the kinetoscope

I love film history
And all its gadgetry
Boom de yada, boom de yada, boom de yada, boom de yada

I love Cahiers
I love Bela Balasz
I love Munsterberg
And Soviet Montage

I love film theory
What is Cinema?
Boom de yada, boom de yada, boom de yada, boom de yada

I love realism
I love Expressionists
I love illusions
And all the plot twists

I love that whole world:
The moving picture show
Boom de yada, boom de yada, boom de yada, boom de yada
When I agreed to watch Death Bed: The Bed That Eats with my brother, my expectations were pretty low. Low-budget indie horror films from the seventies tend to be, with rare exceptions, badly-paced, drawn out snoozefests with inexplicable plots and awful characters.

This is one of those exceptions.

Death Bed is a shining example of a writer/director (George Barry, who is not credited on IMDb as ever having made another movie) taking extremely limited resources and turning out a film that is not only watchable, but highly engaging. The sets are minimal, the special effects are often extremely unconvincing, and the acting ranges from decent to downright awful (there is a flashback in which a gangster character being eaten by the bed says "I'm being eaten alive!" in a strange, matter of fact way while shooting his pistol in the general direction of his own crotch, viewable in the first part of this small collection of clips). The concept, at first, seems not just unreasonably bizarre but incapable of supporting an entire film.

But for all that, George Barry managed to put together a film that somehow works. It has a snappy pace and, very importantly, the action and the backstory are explained very clearly throughout the film (except for the ending, which gets a little vague). This is accomplished through the presence of the artist character - a ghost trapped behind his own painting across the room from the bed, where he receives the inedible belongings of the people the bed has eaten, has flashbacks concerning the bed's history, and repeatedly informs the bed of how much he hates it. It is perhaps somewhat unfortunate that he is the only proper character in the movie (interestingly, he is played by two actors - this is possible because he never speaks aloud, allowing him to be voiced by someone other than the man who provides his visual representation). The rest tend to be lacking in personality or history, though there is a strange set of sequences in which one of the girls is set up as if she's going to be our heroine, complete with internal monologues, before she falls victim to the bed. There are a lot of internal monologues in this film though, lending it a sort of dreamy quality. When characters do speak aloud, the deliverance of the dialogue still tends to seem distant, almost abstracted, leading me to believe that the poor acting might have actually benefited the film by keeping it at a strange remove from reality.

Predictably, Death Bed uses its subject matter as a jumping-off point for inclusion of seventies sleaze (it's a seventies movie about a bed that eats people - how could it not include an orgy that ends in the deaths of all involved?), but it's portrayed surprisingly cleanly (don't be surprised to see some nudity here and there, though). Sex is a factor in the story - a very large factor - but its portrayal onscreen is clearly not where Barry's interests really lay when he made this film. The "orgy" in question is depicted by a bunch of people sitting under the blankets and waving their arms to give the scene some movement - hardly the sexiest of orgy portrayals.

Death Bed is surprising because not only is it a fun film (you know the instant you see the bed downing a bottle of Pepto-Bismol that it's definitely okay to laugh at parts of it), but it's also surprisingly artistic. What might have been nothing but laughs a la the Pepto-Bismol sequence works surprisingly well as a serious dreamworld of shifting themes and tones.

If you looked at the title and thought it sounded at all interesting, see it. As George Barry says in the introduction to the film on the DVD (which you must also watch to get an idea of the history of the film and of the personality of the man who made it): "You might as well give it a try."
I'm hoping to do my book and movie reviews sometime this week, but it hasn't happened yet. There's a lot of other stuff going on right now.

Anyway, on Tuesday in women and film we watched Letter from an Unknown Woman, which is a melodrama that's apparently still pretty popular with certain audiences. It's what was known as a "women's film" or "weepy." It came out in 1948, and it really pissed me off. A proper review will be forthcoming, but in the meantime, I would like to present you with my own little Letter from an Unknown Woman In Five Minutes. And yes, this does contain spoilers, since I'm going over the entire story. I personally wouldn't recommend that you see this movie anyway, but if you're really into angst and self-sacrificing love and all that nonsense and actually want to see this thing, you might want to steer clear.

Basically, it goes like this. Stefan, a former virtuoso pianist, receives a letter the night before he is to take part in a duel. In it, Lisa relates her story, starting out with a statement to the effect that she is probably already dead as he reads it, and that she has always been his. Always. So we go into the letter and see the story unfold.

If current trends hold up, there could be a lot of movie reviews showing up on here from now on. I should probably find a community for to post them, or put them on Netflix or something or other. I'll figure it out.

Just a quick review today. Again, no spoilers in the review, though they may come up in the comments.

The Animation Show, volume 1 )
I've decided that I need to start writing mini-reviews for all the movies I see and the books I read. I've been logging both of these in the calendar pages of my planners for several years now, but when I look back at the titles even a few months later I sometimes find that I can't actually remember what the book or movie was about, or whether or not I even liked it. Bad sign for my memory. Anyway, I should probably be practicing writing reviews anyway. Maybe I'll re-join the bookshare comm to post my book reviews (I'm working on World War Z right now, and it's awesome)

I saw two movies today. First, I went with my staff this afternoon to see Bedtime Stories. Then, I went with Ben this evening to see Gran Torino. Can you say "world of difference"?

Bedtime Stories )

Gran Torino )

ETA: I forgot to mention that my reviews will not contain spoilers, unless the "spoilers" are in the previews where you've probably seen them anyway. There may be some spoilers in the comments, but if they originate from me they will be hidden with white text so that you have to highlight them to read them. Note that LJ's message notification system will deliver said comments to your inbox sans html markups if you track the comments on this post, so you could get an inbox full of undisguised spoilers if you do so.


Oct. 10th, 2008 11:53 am
You know what movie you all should see? The Piano. We watched it in film theory on Tuesday, and discussed it yesterday. Now I've gone and looked at the reviews on Netflix (I should stop doing that. There are a lot of idiots on that site). And yeah, most of the ones on the first page are glowing, but then there are people going on about...well, I don't want to ruin it for you. Anyway, the romance is unconventional, and the most potentially troubling aspect of the movie, but one that makes sense if you see it the way you're probably supposed to. Let's just say that for a while it doesn't seem like a feminist film, when it really is at heart.

Oh gods, this idiot is going on about how the entire movie was ruined because the piano was shipped in an unrealistic fashion.
I've been feeling a bit in the mood for a scary movie, so when I went on YouTube to look up something unrelated, I went ahead and clicked on the official preview for a movie called Quarantine. This was the first time I've heard of this movie, and after seeing the preview, I'm almost certainly not going to go see the movie.

Here's the preview.

And here's my comment, in case they delete it (which is quite likely, I think):
Color me unimpressed. I find it kind of ridiculous that an official ad has such an obvious squashing of the frame on its intro. As for the preview itself, the shakycam makes me think Cloverfield ripoff (and what consumer video camera shoots in letterbox, anyway? Maybe it's a news crew, but then it should still be in 1.33). This seems a poor choice for a preview clip, since it's incomprehensible out of context, and the ending seems random and unexciting. I'm definitely not seeing this movie.

Ahh, the joys of telling people how stupid they are....
And I am juuuuust familiar enough with Half-Life canon to find that extremely amusing.

Let me explain.

Back in May, I got this email through the AMIA listserv:

Dear AMIA List Serve subscribers and archivists,

I know thousands of you will get this email so thank you for taking a moment to read it.

I am searching for some media archives of a 1970s congressional hearing. Wed. Aug 3, 1977 Senator Kennedy in the Senate discusses a CIA covert program codenamed “MKUltra”- this was a brainwashing research project in the ‘50s and 60’s.

I am looking to find this footage, select pieces of it, and obtain copyright information (or is it public domain?) for use in a COMMERCIAL FEATURE FILM.

Please help!! Any references or knowledge would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you!


Though the email was signed "Anonymous," the sender's name comes up as Gordon Freeman. A few more emails have come in from the same guy, looking for the owner of the rights to this image, asking for more information on MKUltra media, and now looking for someone to do tape transfers.

Spoofie is feeling rather curious about all of this (and before anyone asks, I don't consider this to be a breach of privacy, due to the fact that these emails were posted to a large, public listserv).
RIP, Bruce Conner. Your film A Movie was the first piece of avant-garde filmmaking I ever actually enjoyed watching.

Bruce Conner



November 2012



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